On Feb. 10, the Trump Administration released its FY2021 Budget which would slash the budget for the EPA by 26.5% and the Army Corps of Engineers by 22% (of the amount appropriated in FY20).
In addition, the Department of Interior's budget was cut by 16%. Overall, President Trump's FY21 budget of $4.8 trillion will increase federal spending to his priority programs like the border wall (which is budgeted for $2 billion), NASA (which is budgeted for over $25 billion - a 12% increase), and overall military spending. The budget proposal also includes deep cuts to federal spending on Medicare/Medicaid and other safety net programs. In addition, foreign aid overseen by the State Department would be cut by nearly 21%.
The administration requested $6.7 billion to fund the Environmental Protection Agency in fiscal 2021, according to the budget request. That amount is $2.4 billion, or 26.5% below the near-record level of $9.1 billion that Congress approved for the EPA in December. The proposal was slightly higher than last year’s request of $6.1 billion, but consistent with the Trump administration’s prior budget requests for the EPA.
For the Corps, the administration is seeking $6 billion for the upcoming fiscal year, which is $1.7 billion or 22% below the enacted levels for the current year. The administration also asked for more money for the Corps than it did last year, when its request was $4.8 billion.
The White House is proposing deep cuts in clean water and safe drinking water revolving funds popular with states and local communities for upgrading water infrastructure. The Trump administration is requesting a total of $1.98 billion in fiscal 2021 for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, a more than 28% decrease from the $2.77 billion Congress appropriated and Trump signed into law in FY20.
- The Clean Water State SRF would receive $1.1 billion in FY21 compared to $1.6 billion in FY20
- The Drinking Water SRF is budgeted for $863 million in FY21 compared to $1.1 billion in FY20
The Trump administration has repeatedly proposed cutting funding for the State Revolving Funds and some other water infrastructure programs, including ones targeted toward low-income and minority communities. Congress has rejected those proposed cuts and actually increased funding for such water projects.
The Administration’s budget proposes $25 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, which is a federal credit program administered by EPA for eligible water and wastewater infrastructure projects.
The president’s budget request proposes $6 million for the EPA to carry out its PFAS Action Plan, which outlines ways the agency would research and consider regulating the ubiquitous chemicals. The funding would go toward research and communicating the chemicals’ risks to the public, according to the proposal. PFAS, also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, have been detected in water supplies across the country. The EPA proposes adding the equivalent of five full-time employees to help implement the action plan. For the current fiscal year, Congress provided $13 million to the EPA to treat, cleanup, and remediate PFAS and other emerging contaminants.
Also, in the budget:
- The budget proposes $1 million for workforce training in FY21 which is the same as FY20.
- The budget proposes a slight increase for SCO/SSO/Stormwater funding in FY21 with a proposal of $61 million compared to $60 million in FY20.
- The budget request seeks $281 million for research, a $219 million or nearly 50% drop from the $500 million the agency received this year.
- The administration has again targeted various EPA programs aimed at restoring ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes, Puget Sound, Lake Champlain, and Gulf of Mexico for cuts. Each of those programs is popular with lawmakers in both parties according to Bloomberg BNA.
- The agency is requesting $331 million, compared with the $501 million that Congress restored after the agency’s attempt to slash these programs. The agency said it would fully fund the Great Lakes and South Florida initiatives, but would provide limited funding for the Chesapeake Bay initiative according to Bloomberg BNA.
As a reminder, Congress has been overruling the White House’s deep cuts in EPA and Army Corps budgets for the past budget cycles. In recent years, the Administration has sought particularly deep cuts in the EPA’s budget, but Congress has actually increased the agency’s funding each year.